Finding a Job (and Hope) As a New Graduate

As you get ready to put your new degree to work and begin your career, it is easy to feel discouraged. However, there is hope, in addition to some good advice, to help you get noticed during the current economic difficulties.

An important item to note is that not all industries and sectors have been equally impacted. In March, reported that the University of Virginia is giving advice to its 2009 graduates1 about where to focus when looking for a first job out of school.

According to the article, it is clear that some fields, such as information technology, administrative, sales, and customer service, have openings available, especially within large metropolitan areas. While it is true that overall compensation — such as signing bonuses, reimbursement for relocation, and starting salary — have been impacted, there are still solid opportunities for a new graduate ready to start small and grow into a position. The keys to success are looking for recession resistant industries, such as energy, technology, and healthcare, and then preparing yourself with an impressive resume that helps you stand out from the crowd.

For example, if you have a degree in applied science, engineering, or nursing, there are great opportunities. Firms are still hiring engineers, especially companies linked with government or federal programs. More than 60 companies were represented at a recent job fair held at University of Virginia. Additionally, there are signs that many layoffs in this sector reflect restructuring to eliminate low performers (as opposed to an overarching reduction in workforce). The field of nursing appears to be as recession proof as ever and may actually be experiencing a growth trend of 23-39%.

The options are bright for business and commerce students, too! Although recruitment is at reduced levels, it is still occurring: More than half of University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce's 2009 graduates and about 70% of the Darden School of Business graduates have reported offers of full-time employment.

For those who have considered continuing on to more education until the job market improves, take note: There has been an unexpected side effect of the economic downturn. Many have the same idea; in fact, in some areas applications to graduate programs have doubled! This means more competition and—with budget cuts to state institutions—fewer openings. But there are options other than continuing one's education. Here are some strategies that are especially relevant in today's challenging market to help you get your foot in the door.

Network: As you finish your degree you have an excellent means of expanding your network: Alumni. According to NYTimes.com2, networking with alumni is a great form of targeted research and outreach that draws upon the intergenerational relationships that so many universities stress. Additionally, many universities have electronic tools to facilitate the process. Additionally, it never hurts to explore other networking opportunities.

Volunteer and Intern: If you're having trouble finding a position, use it as an opportunity to expand your skill set, gain practical experience, and forge relationships with people who may someday (soon!) be considering you for a position.

Keep your eyes open: Attend career fairs, keep your resume updated and ready, apply for jobs, contact companies in which you have interest, and don't stop till you find the position you want.

Stay mobile: Remember that an industry that is struggling in one region may be thriving in another and you have an asset that many established professionals may not possess: Mobility. Take advantage of this strength and look at jobs outside your geographic area.

While recent news will have you believe opportunities in the job market are grim, all is not lost. You made it this far, and your next adventure is waiting for you.


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